House investigative committee calls for Madigan testimony in corruption scandal
Following initial hearings, a committee formed to investigate House Speaker Mike Madigan’s involvement in a ComEd corruption scandal requested testimony from key players.
State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Hillside, chairman of the special investigative committee tasked with reviewing Speaker Mike Madigan’s role in the ComEd scandal, announced Friday that the committee was requesting the testimonies of ComEd executives, lobbyists and Madigan himself.
Welch sent letters requesting “Madigan, Michael McClain, Anna Pramaggiore, Fidel Marquez, John Hooker, Jay D. Doherty, Michael R. Zalewski and ComEd” to appear before the committee at the next hearing, scheduled for Sept. 29. The requests do not include subpoenas, meaning the committee is requesting their voluntary cooperation.
The bipartisan Illinois House committee began hearings Sept. 10 to investigate whether Madigan was involved in behavior unbecoming of a state lawmaker after he was implicated in federal bribery charges filed against ComEd in July.
In July, federal prosecutors announced ComEd had been charged with a years-long bribery scheme that sought to “influence and reward” Madigan between 2011 and 2019 by arranging for $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to his political cronies. Subpoenas were served seeking information as to Madigan’s involvement with similar schemes involving AT&T and others.
Madigan was not charged as part of the case, but was identified in court documents as “Public Official A.” As part of the deal, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine, admit to seeking Madigan’s help in passing legislation worth more than $150 million to the company and continue to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into public corruption.
Madigan responded to the probe by calling the committee a political stunt and denied any wrongdoing.
Among the requested witnesses is ComEd’s former vice president of governmental affairs, Fidel Marquez – charged with bribery conspiracy Sept. 4. The charges allege he orchestrated the scheme to pay Madigan allies in exchange for the speaker’s support in Springfield. Charges via criminal information – as opposed to a grand jury indictment – indicate that Marquez is likely to plead guilty.
Long-time Madigan confidant and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain is also included among the witnesses. McClain had his house raided by federal authorities in May 2019, and was identified as “Individual A” in ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement, alleged that McClain in conjunction with Madigan had “sought to obtain from ComEd jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and subcontracts” for Madigan’s associates.
Former Chicago Ald. Michael R. Zalewski, also asked to testify, is believed to be “Associate 3” identified in the charges against ComEd and to have played a prominent role in the charges. Associate 3 was given a subcontract from ComEd for $5,000 a month immediately after retiring from the City Council in May 2018. Zalewski’s home was raided by federal agents in July 2019.
Anna Pramaggiore is the former CEO of ComEd. In 2018, she was promoted to CEO of Exelon Utilities, which oversees ComEd and five other gas and electric utility companies. She resigned from her position in October 2019 amid the federal probe.
Jay Doherty, former City Club of Chicago president and ComEd lobbyist, was also asked to appear alongside John Hooker, former ComEd executive turned lobbyist. While not charged with a crime, Hooker was implicated in the ComEd scandal, allegedly assisting McClain in directing contracts to Madigan associates.
State lawmakers from both parties and Democrats from across the state have called for Madigan to immediately resign his positions as House speaker and chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Others, such as Pritzker, have made a milder call for him to resign if the allegations are true.
The Madigan corruption probe has complicated Pritzker’s appeal to voters for his “fair tax” on the Nov. 3 ballot. Madigan is the fifth key backer of a progressive tax to face corruption probes as voters are being asked to trust lawmakers with greater power to impose new taxes on retirees and tax hikes of up to 47% on over 100,000 small businesses that create most Illinois jobs.